This week Moville writer Sharon Thompson shares another tale exploring the life of local people.
Each Sunday this series will showcase works of literature written by local women for readers to enjoy.
Arthur was very popular during last week’s edition of Woman’s Words, where Sharon first introduced us to the 68-year-old gentleman who is looking for love and life again, following the death of his wife Milly.
This week, Arthur pays a visit to his son and daughter-in-law’s home.
Arthur looks at the bus stop shelter. Milly and himself always had a cuddle in them if there was a chance for over forty years. Arthur gets a pang of loneliness when he sees one.
His feet scuff the pavement and he can hear Milly tell him off for ruining his shoes. Her wonderful fine hair swinging in a bob. That beaming smile taking over her face and those blue eyes making him love her more every day. Arthur tosses leaves in front of him like a schoolboy. His eyes grow heavy with droplets that run into the grove in his lip.
He turns into the cul de sac for Crescent Close houses 44 – 50 where some of his family live. He cannot walk to Hong Kong or wherever Tom is at the minute, doing whatever marketing analysts do all day. Martin’s home with all its problems will just have to do for now. The little garden is mostly gravel with a few weedy-looking shrubs sticking through it. Even the doorbell on number forty-six sounds tense as he rings it. He should just walk in, but he cannot face doing that these days.
Cathy opens the PVC door. Arthur’s thrilled he doesn’t feel lustful feelings for his blonde daughter-in-law. She’s a beautiful looking woman. Tall and elegant she is always dressed well, never in casual tracksuits. Arthur’s smile and hug hopefully tells Cathy whose side he is on in all of this nonsense. Her blue beads match her ear-rings and her dress has navy lace on it. Arthur’s starting to notice little things again.
‘Thanks for saying you’d watch the kids. I know it’s your night for getting dinner here with us. I’ve told Jessica there will be pizza.’
‘Sure we can order it.’ Arthur hangs his coat up in the hall and moves towards the tiny living room. Melissa has earphones on but smiles at her Granda. The couch is littered with her magazines and schoolbooks. The floor looks like a dishwasher.
‘Excuse the mess.’ Cathy flicks her blonde curls in the hall mirror, ‘I haven’t the heart for cleaning.’
‘Of course not,’ Arthur can see things are bad.
‘Jessica’s in the bath,’ Cathy’s voice kind of cracks and she hangs her head slightly and mops an eye.
Arthur closes the living room door and takes his daughter-in-law by the shoulders. Glancing up the stairs behind her he says softly, ‘Cathy, you did nothing wrong. Don’t make it easy on him but don’t make this hard on yourself. You’re a good woman.’
‘For the kids’ sake I’ll try to put this behind us. It’s not like in the movies. I cannot just throw him out?’
Arthur nods relieved that she loves his son enough to forgive him.
‘She came to my work you know. Made a scene. Said Martin was going to leave me.’
‘I know. Said there were things I didn’t know.’
‘What else is there to know?’
Cathy’s shoulders move up into a forlorn shrug.
‘What did the partners in the firm say to that?’
‘Said at least I knew where to get a good divorce lawyer. Those sharks have seen it all. I’m only a secretary to them. Small fry.’
‘Jesus.’ Arthur hugs Cathy hard. Like a father might if she had one. ‘What does your mum think of all this?’ He can picture Grace Farmer’s face clearly. She’s always been a scary woman to Arthur.
‘She doesn’t know, not yet anyhow. I dunno know, Arthur. This is hard to forgive. You wouldn’t have done the dirt on Milly?’
‘No.’ Arthur says. Instantly he feels guilty. These days ‘he does the dirt’ on Milly often in his mind. He’s even had the greasy auld one in the chipper in various positions up against the bins out the back. (It’s all in his head of course.)
There’s a noise from upstairs and Martin appears looking all dapper and smelling of strong aftershave.
‘Hey, Dad,’ he has his salesman smile on. It’s stood him well in the furniture business but Arthur could slap it sometimes. ‘We’re going to “Chez Nous” for top notch grub and a good chat.’ He rubs Cathy’s arm and she flinches.
‘Great.’ Arthur shuffles to and fro trying to get out of both of their ways in the tiny hallway.
‘Jessica’s in the bath and our snotty teenager is somewhere pussing because she cannot go to France on the school trip.’ Martin is fixing his short cut in the mirror making it stand up slightly at the front.
‘Don’t use too much hair product. You’ll go bald like me.’ Arthur adds for something to say.
‘I’m nothing like you, Dad.’ Martin shoves past him to go into the kitchen to get his mobile.
‘Granda!’ Jessica hollers from the top of the stairs in her towel. Her hair is all wet and clinging to her small shoulders.
‘Princess Jessica.’ Arthur curtsies low at the foot of the stairs.
‘You’re so funny! Getting’ dressed now.’ She’s gone like a flash of love across the landing.
‘The kids don’t know anything,’ Cathy whispers, ‘and I only wish Martin was like you Arthur.’ She kisses his cheek.
‘Pizza!’ Jessica drips all the way down the steps, ‘Pizza, pizza, pizza.’